Average daily boardings of the Valley's light-rail system dropped in March -- a bad sign with the heat of summer and a substantial fare hike still weeks away.
Stats just released by Metro Light Rail estimate that 972,962 riders boarded the system in March. That's an average daily boarding of 31,386 -- fewer people than in February.
Average weekday and average Saturday ridership fell, too. The only positive news -- if you could call it that -- was in the Sunday and holiday ridership, which saw a tiny uptick in boarders.
As in recent months, farebox totals were not released along with these statistics -- New Times has requested them from Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose.
In the meantime, we have to give Foose at least a little grief for the overly optimistic news release below. Suddenly, it seems, the monthly total is important. (Of course, by that measure, February was worse than January).
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METRO ridership in March tops previous months
PHOENIX -- For March 2009, METRO ridership totals 972,962 boardings - the highest monthly total since the system's opening. The average weekday ridership is 34,376, average Saturday ridership is 28,537 and average Sunday and holiday ridership is 20,508.
In February, METRO ridership totaled 908,052 boardings, resulting in an average weekday ridership of 35,277, average Saturday ridership of 31,417 and average Sunday and holiday ridership of 19,212.
METRO will continue to monitor ridership and report new totals on a monthly basis; numbers will be available by the middle of the subsequent month. Detailed reports of boardings by station will be available by mid-April for the first quarter 2009 and on a quarterly basis thereafter.